Waste

Tilos in Aegean Sea is world’s first zero waste island

Tilos in Aegean Sea is world's first zero waste island

Photo: Just Go Zero

Published

July 18, 2023

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Published:

July 18, 2023

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Tilos in Greece has become the world’s first island with a zero waste certificate. As part of the Just Go Zero Tilos project, the island has successfully eliminated landfilling, residents participate in a door-to-door collection system, and a state-of-the-art recycling center was opened.

All households and businesses on Tilos participate in waste sorting and source separation. It has received a Zero Waste Certified City status, which is the first time that an island got recognition for managing all waste without the use of landfills.

The local administration has set out to eliminate waste generation in the community of five hundred residents. As the local economy primarily relies on seasonal tourism, the amount of discarded material was putting pressure on the infrastructure.

In just two years, Tilos has managed to reduce its landfill disposal rate from 87% to zero.

Just two years ago, Tilos was sending 87% of its waste to a local landfill. Due to the lack of an efficient sorting system and the growing number of tourists, the local authorities were considering expanding its capacity.

However, the municipality decided to pursue a more sustainable solution and initiated the Just Go Zero Tilos project in collaboration with waste management company Poligreen and with the support of the South Aegean Region’s administration.

The endeavor started in June 2021, focusing on waste segregation and implementing a door-to-door collection system. No more waste is dumped at the local landfill, which is being cleaned up.

Mayor Maria Kamma claimed that the small Aegean island launched “a green revolution beyond comparison.”

Tilos has achieved one of the highest rates of recycling and composting in the world, nearly 90%, according to local authorities. With the removal of waste bins and the closure of landfills, the island has become a prime example of sustainable tourism and development in the Aegean Sea, Mayor Kamma emphasized.

The Circular Innovation Center has replaced the island’s landfill

Before the start of the Just Go Zero Tilos project, the island was generating 770 kilograms of municipal waste per capita annually. However, with the implementation of the project, the amount has been reduced to 440 kilos, with only 54 kilograms remaining as non-recyclable waste.

The landfill was closed last year as part of the project, and the Circular Innovation Center (3K) was established. All waste is now transported there for sorting and further processing.

The facility includes a composting section and 15 sorting mechanisms. Waste that cannot be recycled is transformed into alternative fuel for cement production.

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